Becoming polyamorous / Healthy way to deal with eventual pain?
Would any of you have some words of encouragement for me perhaps?
I'm currently in a monogamous relationship, married with a man I believe is polyamorous. He hasn't had the experience of it yet (only mono relationships so far) and we've gone back and forth on the subject with him swaying towards a sexually open "emotionally free" relationship, which I am fine with, and then the full polyamorous experience of loving another woman along with an accompanying sexual relationship. I've only known about the possibility of respectful, true polyamory for a couple years now--the time we've been dating and later married.
The way he sees love and emotions (as universal, a Buddhist view) is one of the things we have in common, and is also what makes me certain he is polyamorous--I think the "uncertainty" he displays sometimes is because he doesn't want to scare me away.
I had previously done the (hard) work of opening myself up to the possibility of a shared sexual relationship, or of "letting my man roam", but had never considered it possible to have a solid relationship with someone whose *heart* isn't entirely mine (I must add that the sense of "owning" someone like that no longer makes sense to me).
My reasons for wanting to become polyamorous are multiple, but start with the fact that self-improvement is my ultimate goal in life, I want to be the best "me" I can be, and I do not want my own experiences to be limited by social preconditioning any more than I want to limit my husband's experiences.
I would like to open up to the possibility of him actually loving someone else without that meaning I am insufficient, or that I am being replaced, or that he's outgrown me. I also want the freedom to love another man in the future without it being the end of my current relationship.
Except... it may actually happen that I am no longer "enough" for him at some point, that he outgrows me. Time is a finite resource, we all seek new experiences, new connections... Sometimes, the new ends up meaning more than the old. These things are facts of life to me, not something I can choose to ignore or forget about (they have all been proven in my own past relationships). I realize monogamy is a sort of contract that limits exposure to these realities, but everyone is "supposed" to sign without knowing what they're giving up...
To resolve the issue of eventual pain and loss, I have read posts that suggest concentrating on the fact "that nobody is irreplaceable", that I can find another partner, that it's alright if people outgrow each other, that being alone isn't so bad...
It seems to me that these suggestions cheapen relationships and actually make them all interchangeable!! "Don't worry, if your husband likes her more, you can find another guy to replace him, too!" Yech.
But I see the wisdom in them, I mean, who can predict when or with whom, or HOW people fall in love?
So I know of no ways to move towards polyamory without feeling like the floor will drop out from under me. It feels as though I have no choice but to face all these painful things at once, in advance, or I will experience even worse pain when I see my husband falling for someone else.
"Remaining monogamous" would be the easy way out... it would let me ignore these issues, but that is not who I am anymore. The cat's out of the bag, I have to / want to do this, or I will always wonder what I am missing and hate myself for stunting others. I am also very happy with my husband and do not want to end the relationship just because my head was "programmed wrong" by society. :(
What posts are these that are saying that nobody is irreplaceable? Personally, I would completely disagree.
I'll use my girlfriend as an example because her situation is closer to yours then my own. She and her husband have been together for 14 years. If she lost him she would be beyond devastated... they play vital roles in each other's lives. She also loves me -- we've been together for over two years now and I think if we broke up it would take her a long time to get over it. Her love for me does not diminish her love for her husband or make him in any way replaceable. To her he is irreplaceable and always, I think, will be. I don't know if she and I will ever play as deep a role in each other's lives as she and her husband do but we're open to the possibility of some day of being that important to each other and it would in no way mean that he would be less important to her.
Relationships are absolutely not interchangeable whether you're mono or poly.
An excellent article on the subject by Franklin Veaux, "Polyamory, Loss, and the Superhuman Soul": http://www.xeromag.com/fvessay06.html
Usually the only time someone is not going to work out as a partner is if they are doing poly differently or have a different agenda than the person(s) they are with... then the relationship tends to morph into a friendship... sometimes a sex buddy, sometimes not.
Poly is about expansive love for the most part, not about scarce love in the form of moving ones love around to a certain person at a time because there is a limit on it. Love in poly tends to be for people of a whole group, rather than directed toward one person. Somehow love is not as full if someone wasn't there, if that makes sense.
You might even love this person as your metamour. Love need not be just about two in a relationship, but everyone involved. That doesn't mean that you have to be with them too, but that you are happy in their love for one another based on the satisfaction that someone you love is loved and loving... that comes back as more love. Love attracts love if you let it.
Yes, the relationship world as you know it will end as poly is a different mindset entirely when it comes to love. Yes, you will have to experience it to find out. It means your world will change, but it sounds likely that your marriage won't end. Who knows, it could get a million times better if you decide that is a noble goal to work towards together.
There is a lot of support here, so please make use of it. Have a read around if you haven't done so already. Do a search and see what threads sound interesting and read, read, read... get your hubby to also. It sounds like the two of you need to take a breath and realize you are not alone in this. :)
Let us know how it goes if you get a chance? :)
Some thoughts on your post..........
A lot of this comes from the fairy tales our culture recites to us as children.
But we're adults. We've realized the fairy tales don't correlate with real life. Right ?
The whole "happily ever after (in a bubble)" is a fantasy. And not even a good one ! Real life is far more exciting & challenging.
Seems you realize this internally but are reluctant to give it up for the unknown. I think that's all it boils down to...........that feared unknown :)
How about throwing out those terms (and mindsets). How about substituting "different & unique" ?
Evolution is ongoing. Relationships don't stop the clock - or people's growth & divergence.
It's your choice.
A belated thank you...
Thank you (months and months late!) to everyone who replied. I waited until now to say anything at all because I had the "write, delete, rinse, repeat" syndrome... nothing I could say was anything but an admission of fear and uncertainty, and as you've said it yourselves... the only way I can figure it out is by going ahead with it.
Well... I've done my part of the work to the point where my fridge is fixed, to quote an article read on another site (will have to find the link), and I am ready to try.
I've realized the only thing I can be sure of is: if my husband is committed to having a working relationship, he will not "forget me" or "set me aside" when someone else captures his interest. And if he does... Heck, I deserve better than that. I've told him as much. So I will trust in his actions and if it leads to a breakup, or he doesn't want to consider my side of the equation when it comes to sharing time, activites and such... Then that will be that. I've read everywhere that the only way to truly lessen the fear is to confront it, so I am willing to do just that.
He still seems iffy on the whole topic, and on how he'll react... It doesn't help that he refuses to read about it, and believes he can make the mental journey alone--I doubt I'll ever see him on these forums, although I have mentioned them often. :(
I've explained that I will believe in his actions, and do my best to understand what's going and communicate if I get scared, and that I will give him time and space whenever it happens... that's all I can do, is be there, be supportive and also take care of myself all the while.
As for me... I am OK with the whole idea... even trying it for myself! I've done a LOT of reading and talking with friends about poly in the months since I've posted this. The idea of not HAVING to internally label a relationship as "friends" or "friends with benefits" or "bed buddies" or "on the side" feels very, very peaceful. I understand that I have to use these terms to start explaining what can develop between two people, but I don't care to use them for myself.
And frankly, I am looking forward to having someone else in my life for the simple reason that I enjoy the complexities of relationships where people are actually HONEST about trying to work things out instead of just using each other for sex or emotional support :eek:. Even the idea of working out a flow between complex people is appealing. I know that there will be issues and kinks to work out. I know it won't be a bed of roses. But since when has ANY relationship worth its salt been a constant bed of roses? Between people who never discuss, never challenge, never question, never disagree, never... act like different people? Ech.
My marriage already defies being defined as a "marriage" for several (somewhat silly) reasons, for example... we don't wear rings, we never cared for a big white ceremony with hundreds of people, we don't tie up all our assets together, we don't care about having kids (for now). We keep ourselves sane by not caving in to expectations. It makes for interesting conversation with our more conservative friends... :D
I feel perfectly fine with having "whatever" develops with someone else. I don't feel like imposing my expectations on someone else either, and I don't feel Ok with people dumping theirs on me, although I'm willing to compromise.
Which is what triggered my wish to try it out, actually...
Hubby is the kind of person who needs a LOT of alone time. Briefly put, I have been a loner most of my life NOT by choice (just had a ton of issues to work through). I'm at a comfortable place with myself right now, and I want to finally learn how to be sociable. How to go out on a date (when I have never taken part in the traditional dating scene!), how to not feel anxious and awkward around a bunch of new people, how to... just go for what feels good for me, without being lashed down by everyone's wants, wishes and desires, or putting other people first.
He and I have had the same conversation back and forth, briefly put: I express a wish for deeper connection with him, then he tells me he needs alone time. I say it's fine, but I still want the connection; then he wonders why I don't put more effort into learning how to enjoy myself on my own (which is not the point for me), why I can't be patient with him when he needs to be alone, etc. It can get pretty bad.
Lately though I've had to put my foot down and explain that I have my own wants and wishes for my life, and the only way I have found so that he can have his downtime and me my social time is... to let me have my social time.
I'm afraid that started his brain hamsters running... I don't think he'd ever truly considered the implications of ME wanting to meet people before he did.
So I don't know what will happen from this point on, except that he has reaffirmed his wish to work with me through this. I don't know if he expects me to change my mind or not and that worries me, but heck... I also want to work through this! =)
So we will see...
It sounds like you've really thought this through, and you have good sense. Keep thinking carefully about these sorts of things.
I don't think people are replaceable. Every relationship I've had has been unique, and has had its own dynamic and impact on my life. I've never replaced anyone.
I do think, though, that it's reasonable to understand that most relationships end. If you're married, you have about a 50/50 chance of making it through to death, regardless of whether you try to stay monogamous.
I actually think that polyamory can help a relationship continue, as it can adapt and grow as people grow. It also takes a little pressure off. You don't have to be all and everything to your spouse, and he doesn't have to do that for you. If you can break free from the "ownership" type of thinking, then you can probably adjust to this, too.
In my experience, not wanting to learn about poly, not doing research on one's own, is not a promising sign.
My ex, Beaker, was not interested at all in learning on her own about poly or non-monogamy. I told her that we could learn from others mistakes and joys but she was not interested and never researched it for herself. So we would have situations where, for instance, she assumed that she had veto power over my dating SW without us talking about it. I told her that unless I agreed to it, no she didn't. I then agreed to both of us having veto power, a decision I do not regret. However if she had been exposed to the many discussions on veto power here and elsewhere, it could have challenged her assumptions and made her think more about those assumptions. That would have been good for us. We did not break up because of poly. However not wanting to learn about it and making assumptions - on both our parts - did point to communication problems that were not brought into the open until it was far too late to save our relationship.
Your experiences will undoubtedly differ. But not wanting to learn and relying only on you to bring information about poly to the relationship may mean he is not that willing to think on his own about this, to challenge his assumptions and ideas about love, relationships, marriage.
I agree 100% with Opalescent. Why not read Opening Up by Tristan Taormino together with him? Bring the book to bed with you, read him a few passages out loud, discuss, etc. It's a very good book and not over-the-top sensationalistic or preachy. If he's agreed to "work with you through this," then what's his problem with reading up on poly and learning what others have done to succeed and get over the bumps in the road?
Thank you for your encouragement! :)
I understand his point of view although it makes living with him quite a unique experience.
If he was trying to build a patio for the first time, would he start by nailing random pieces of wood together in a vaguely patio-shaped heap, or would he look at how successful patios are usually built and use that as a starting point?
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